Legal aid for early legal advice and assistance is available, subject to means and a merits test. Funding for advocacy at inquests may also be available via the Exceptional Case Funding scheme, subject to means and legal criteria.
In January last year, we changed the regulations around inquest funding, the effect of which meant the firm, KRW, representing the majority of the families seeking representation, could apply for funding in this case. Legal aid was provided to KRW, effective in the vast majority of those cases from February 2017.
However, all firms seeking to undertake publicly-funded cases must be accredited. In this case, it was discovered that KRW had not obtained the accreditation, required as a condition of the firm being granted a legal aid contract. The firm’s contract was suspended until the accreditation was achieved.
Accreditation was secured on the 7 December 2018 as a result the Contract suspension was lifted allowing KRW to once more receive public funding for the majority of the families.